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Southampton Sailing Robot

A project by: Southampton Sailing Robot Team

Successful

WE RAISED £1,602

from 18 donors

This project received pledges on Thu 30 Jun 2016

The University of Southampton's Fund for the Greatest Need provides matched funding opportunities for academic priorities focused on advancing research, enterprise and innovation.

Help us to send our Sailing Robot to the World Robot Sailing Championship in Portugal!

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

Some people say that sailing is not simply a challenging and fun sport, but also a passion. That's why we are trying to take all the fun out of it by substituting sailors with computers.

Just kidding! We want to add another dimension to the challenge of sailing. Our task is to build an autonomous sailing boat to compete in the World Robotic Sailing Championship (WRSC) 2016, a competition with both data collection and racing challenges, this September in Portugal. After the end of the competition, our team will join the International Robotic Sailing Conference that is part of the event, to represent University of Southampton in the international community.

Our team will be the first Southampton team presenting a sailing robot at the starting line of WRSC, with a high potential of winning the "Micro-Sailboat" class. To make our sailing robot the best and send our team to Portugal we need your help to raise a minimum of £1,500.

WHO WILL BENEFIT?

The participation of our team in this competition and the conference will raise the profile of the University of Southampton (yeah, even more than now!). Our team members will gain an invaluable experience by applying their knowledge, meeting new sailing and autonomy enthusiasts and creating contacts with companies. Through the large variety of topics in the team (Engineering, Electronic and Computer Sciences, Business, Law and Art), we will widen our knowledge to other areas and get valuable experience in the cooperation across disciplines. 

This year’s competition is only the beginning. The support for a student initiated competition team will further encourage future students. Our sailing robot will be available as a ready to use platform for other student projects. Also, WRSC is closely connected to the Micortransat challenge, a challenge with the goal of an autonomous crossing of the Atlantic that is yet to be completed.

Structural deck plan two weeks before manufacture.

WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?

The team needs at least £1,500 for travel and transportation costs and anything additional that we raise will be saved for next year's team to provide start-up funds for improving the design and control of the boat - and hopefully competing in the full-size “Sailboat” class.

This project has already received partial funding from the University's Education Enhancement Fund (EEF) and our crowdfunding project will receive an additional £500 of matched funding from donations made by University alumni who support wide-reaching student projects like this one. 

Cost Breakdown

Funded by EEF

- Electronics: £495

- Firmware: £40

- Registration Fees: £1,000

- Accommodation: £3,100

- Boat transport: £408

- Testing: £600

- Publicity: £220

Donated by members

- Partial travel costs paid for by student members:  £200

- Electronics: £200

- Special thanks to Dr Lester Gilbert for his hardware donations for the boat construction!

We need:

- Remaining travel costs (£150 pp x10): £1,500

FOLLOW US

We will be updating this page regularly to keep you posted on our progress. Keep an eye on our social media pages and our website for the latest news!

- Like us on Facebook: Maritime Robotics Student Society

- Visit our website: https://sailrobot.wordpress.com/ 

- Check out our Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTyD1mkkHjv4Pt5DJc9eMsQ


HELP US SUCCEED!

Please share this project with everyone you know or anyone you think would support us - on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat or on your blog.

Thank you!

1 year ago

First autonomous sailing

This Saturday was a very exciting day for us: We finally put all our electronics on a boat and let it go!

Our boat equipped with sensors; and finally on the water. By the way, you can get the photo at the bottom as a postcard. 

Overall we were very happy with our results:

  • Power supply CHECK
  • ROS CHECK
  • Compass (after finding and fixing a bug…) CHECK
  • Wind Sensor CHECK
  • Sail and Rudder actuation CHECK
  • Sailing Control NEEDS MORE WORK

We ran into two problems though: Continuous tacking and … no wind … again!

The mirror like water surface makes for wonderful photos, but we would prefer sailing our robot.

In our sailing state machine we have to tune our conditions for going into tacking mode a bit finer, and probably also introduce different values for the ‘almost no wind’ condition we keep having. One thing we definitely learn in this progress: Some things you just have to be patient with and accept. No wind is no wind, but luckily we have our Landyacht MacGyver for testing in those conditions.

 

 

After packing up at sunset, we went on to the pub. After a day at the lake, the food and drinks tasted even better than usual and we discussed our next plans: Improving our wind sensor analysis, our GPS accuracy and a thorough look at the tacking decision making process.

Help us meet our funding goals to make sure we and our boat can be in Portugal for WRSC2016!

Please have a look at our rewards, share our fundraiser and/or contribute to our campaign.

Funding that we don’t need this year will be used to build an even better boat next year.  All our work from this year is available, not only for next year’s team: Our boat and advice is available to any student working on a related project, e.g. for their individual project (IP), and our firmware is publicly available on github to everyone.

Many thanks to everyone who already pledged support: Alistair Lynn, Matt Brown, Soon Sun Gan, Simone Provenzano, Kerrine Lee, Alessandro Romano, Lee Kwong Yong, andybs and Alex Ziang -
May you always find fair winds and following seas!

1 year ago

Remote controlled sailing practice

As part of the rules, we have to be able to remote control our boat for emergency collision avoidance. So, in addition to writing the software to sail the boat, we also need to be able ourselves to control the boat! Whilst our work on the hull continues, Dr Alex Phillips loaned us two RC Laser boats to practice remote controlled sailing with.

By the way, you can get some remote controlled sailing lessons with us: Just choose any reward from £150!

We finally got a little bit of wind this evening, so we took them sailing in the Southampton common. The boats attracted quite an excited crowd, and we hope that some of them found their way here to our blog.

Our boat needed rescuing from water plants several times, so a few days later we went to the Itchen river. There we had less problems with plants - instead we had to fight strong currents and got our bulb stuck in the mud. Chest waders are a great invention!


Why did we decide to build our own hull and not just use the RC Laser boat we hear you ask?

It was indeed a consideration, since it is a finished boat, coming with motors already fit to the hull, and all wiring going into a small compartment. However these two reasons lead us to go for building our own boat:

  • Length: The RC laser is 1.05 m long, just a bit too long for the usual micro sailboat class

  • Space: On the RC laser there is only a small compartment, which is enough for batteries and the receiver, however it is a very tight fit if we also want to add electronics and more batteries

1 year ago

All the blinking lights

We were so focused on our tests last Wednesday, that we completely forgot about time and ended up testing until almost 11 pm. We took our Landyacht MacGyver out on Boldrewood campus, filled with not one but two Raspberry Pi. We were working in two groups, testing the heading control and the GPS accuracy.

Whilst our Landyacht may look a bit unconventional for a sailing boat, it had many advantages: We can easily carry it around and push it over the lawn whilst varying its heading and position. We can stand right next to it, whilst monitoring it and manually manipulating its sensors. This makes debugging a lot easier, for example it allowed us to find a sign error in the compass node which at first was only visible to us as an unreasonable tacking demand. Without having to go to a lake or relying on the wind, we can also test at any time. As a result we got to enjoy all the blinking LEDs on our electronic boards until late into the night...



Help us meet our funding goals to make sure we and our boat can be in Portugal for WRSC2016!

Please have a look at our rewards, share our fundraiser and/or contribute to our campaig.

Funding that we don’t need this year will be used to build an even better boat next year.  All our work from this year is available, not only for next year’s team: Our boat and advice is available to any student working on a related project, e.g. for their individual project (IP), and our firmware is publicly available on github to everyone.

Many thanks to everyone who already pledged support: Alistair Lynn, Matt Brown, Soon Sun Gan, Simone Provenzano, Kerrine Lee, Alessandro Romano, Lee Kwong Yong, andybs and Alex Ziang

Vielen Dank! Merci beaucoup! 谢谢 !


1 year ago

QUIZ: What is wrong in this picture?

Isn't the undisturbed water of this lake in Southampton common a beautiful, calming view?

Well, a calm lake is not for us when we want to sail a boat! With little wind predicted for today, we hoped to find at least a tiny breeze, just enough to push a 1m boat around, but were unlucky.

On the positive side: We visited all our test locations, and the pictures below will show you what they look like in no-wind conditions. And our team members are so committed to the sailing robot, we decided on the spot, we will try again tomorrow! Slightly better wind conditions are promised around 5pm...

The Itchen river, when there is no wind.

The Solent, when there is no wind.

vc-fund matchfunded £500

University of Southampton Crowdfunding

generated 147 clicks and caused 5 donations totalling £290.00

SophiaMaria

generated 117 clicks and caused 1 donation of £50.00

Southampton Sailing Robot Team

generated 549 clicks and caused 2 donations totalling £6.00

Harry Cutts

generated 80 clicks, donated, and caused 1 donation of £5.00

Pier Maria Biagiolini

generated 171 clicks and caused 1 donation of £5.00

takluyver

generated 283 clicks

Seb L

generated 50 clicks

Bob Preston

generated 50 clicks and donated

Alistair Lynn

generated 3 clicks and donated

Timfkmiller

donated £100.00

Matt Brown

donated £20.00

Soon Sun Gan

donated

Kerrine Lee

donated

Lee Kwong Yong

donated

Alex Ziang

donated

Yu_Cao

signed up to help

4 anonymous donations totalling £221.00

Only project creators and their sponsors can post comments.

@Timfkmiller Hello Tim, Thank you for your questions! Before a race or competition task, we have the position of the buoys, so we can set waypoints ourselves. However, from a given time before a race starts, the boat has to be autonomous, so the boat does everything from waiting at the start line until the end of the race. During the race, we’ll watch both the boat and the data it sends back to a laptop. In fleet races there is one exception: if our boat is at risk of a collision, we will temporarily take control to steer it away from the other boat. We have an off-the-shelf remote control for this purpose. This manual override is necessary due to the difficulty of sensing more than the difficulty of automated control. At the scale of the sailing robots, detecting another boat is not easy! Whilst crossing the Atlantic, AIS (Automatic Identification System) is useful for large-scale obstacle avoidance. At the sub-100m scale of the racing area, it is out of the question. To enable us to detect the obstacle, we think the most interesting feature is the colour, since it will allow us to detect it with a camera. This year for the collision avoidance task we have to detect an orange moving obstacle. In the future, maybe we all have to use the same sail and boat colour, so sailing robots can detect others? To be honest, some of our sailing enthusiasts are a little bit disappointed to be focussing on parameters for different wind conditions, and how to best use the wind direction and heeling angle, rather than tactical considerations for racing. On the other hand, we are happy to cover RYA sailing 1 first before we attempt higher levels!

I'm interested to know how autonomous the robot is. Where in the control loop is the human operator, and what are his cues? I can see that decisions about sail set for the wind and point to point navigation can be automated; how about racing rights of way and tactics?

Best wishes from the Walnut Valley Sailing Club. Tim Miller Commodore

I never got to race our entry to the Man Powered Submarine Championships when an undergraduate - I hope you make it to your championships!